What? You want me to ride a road bike?

Okay, so you’re passionate about mountain biking and not so keen on jumping on a road bike. But I’m going to try to convince you to add road riding to your routine so that you can improve your fitness, as well as your mountain biking.

Loving the Bike

You may have heard words like “fast twitch”, “slow twitch”, “power output”, and “anaerobic” thrown around when people describe the fitness differences between riding road and mountain bikes. But I’m not going to bore you with the science behind it all. Sure, these things have merit and can help explain how each affects your body differently, but it’s so much simpler than that.

It all comes down to speed and distance. Argue with me if you like, but the average person can ride faster and go longer on a road bike than on a mountain bike. This is partially due to terrain (road vs. trail), and partially due to equipment (thin tires/light bike vs wider tires/heavier bike).

By mixing in some road rides, you’re able to expand your cardiovascular threshold and push your body in ways that are so much different from what it’s used to on a mountain bike. Yeah, here’s another one of those terms… “cross-training.”

Switching things up is good for your training in so many ways:

Muscle – Work muscles that aren’t generally used in your primary sport of mountain biking.

Cardio – Improve your endurance by adding in a different type of cardio routine.

Mind and Soul – Give your mind a mental break from what it’s used to.

The Bike – Although you’re getting off the mountain bike to cross-train, you’re still riding two wheels on a frame.

Whether it’s once a week or once a month, crossing over to a road ride will do your body and riding performance a great deal of good.

What’s your experience? Have you already been mixing things up by adding road riding to your routine? Let’s hear about what it’s done for your mountain biking.

Loving the BikeDarryl Kotyk runs the cycling lifestyle website, www.lovingthebike and is the co-host of the Cycling 360 Podcast. He’s a road cyclist at heart, but often gets out for a blast on the mountain bike. Darryl owns a bicycle cafe on the Caribbean island of Grenada called Mocha Spoke. He invites all the Singletracks readers to visit him any time to ride bikes and drink coffee.